Seasonal Guides for Your EMPIRE® Zoysia Maintenance
If you have a mature, established EMPIRE Zoysia grass lawn, drop your mower a notch and give your lawn a “buzz-cut” for the first mow of the spring with a rotary mower that has a sharpened blade. Bag up all the material to keep excess clippings from clumping or causing disease. Check out our Sod University article on the First Mow of the Spring for EMPIRE for more details.
After your initial “buzz-cut,” begin mowing your zoysia grass at the height of 1–2 inches. You can return to spreading your mower clippings on the lawn at this time.
Don’t overwater. EMPIRE needs about one inch of water a week considering rainfall. If you apply any granular fertilizer or control product, you will need to water it in. This is a sufficient amount of water for the week. Overwatering may promote disease outbreak. Conduct an irrigation audit to evaluate how much water is being delivered to different areas of your lawn.
Apply a pre-emergent herbicide when soil temperatures reach 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This will prevent summer annual weeds like crabgrass and goosegrass from plaguing your lawn and garden. Apply post-emergent herbicides in May as needed to control summer annual and perennial broadleaf weeds like white clover, knotweed, spurge and lespedeza. Products containing multiple broadleaf active ingredients are more effective in controlling broadleaf weeds.
Apply a systemic fungicide at a preventive rate to keep disease from taking hold of your lawn. You may begin to see circular patches of brown or dead grass as your EMPIRE Zoysia begins to green up. Do not apply fertilizer until you’ve applied a systemic fungicide at a curative rate and your grass has recovered.
EMPIRE Zoysia’s mowing heights during the summer generally range from about 1–2 inches. When mowing during the summer, never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at a time. If you remove more than that, you will stress the grass and it may go brown for a short time. Taller blades provide more shade for your root system to stay cool and retain moisture during the hot summer days. If you are returning from vacation, you may have to mow multiple times to get the grass back to the desired height. Wait about 3–5 days between each mowing.
Do not overwater the grass. EMPIRE only needs about one inch of water weekly. Water for longer periods of time, less frequently and in the early morning hours. Take rainfall into consideration.
Check for and control any white grubs. Apply Merit 0.5G to prevent grub worms and apply Scotts GrubEx or Dylox 6.2 to treat them if they are currently an issue. If you use a granular variety, water the lawn immediately after application to help soil absorption. Calculate that watering into your weekly watering amount. August is the best time to control grubs because they are small and feeding near the soil surface. Other insects to look out for include mole crickets, billbugs and spittlebugs.
Disease outbreaks in EMPIRE are uncommon at this time. Treat with a broad-spectrum fungicide like Heritage if needed. If you use a granular variety, water the lawn immediately after application to help soil absorption. Calculate that watering into your weekly watering amount.
During the fall, mowing will occur less often—keeping your EMPIRE slightly higher than the regular 1–2 inch height will encourage deeper root growth which helps it survive in colder temperatures and during winter dormancy.
Water less as temperatures drop—too much water will lead to disease. Water to prevent drought stress while grass is actively growing and after the beginning stages of dormancy to prevent dehydration.
If large patch disease is a common problem in your EMPIRE, apply a fungicide at a preventative rate. If you use a granular variety, water the lawn immediately after application to help soil absorption. Consider mapping those areas because fungicide treatment can be expensive.
A Word of Caution for Newly Sodded Lawns
A pre-emergent contains a chemical that prevents a weed from putting down roots. Because it is a root inhibitor, it can also negatively affect your new lawn, which is trying to establish itself by putting down roots. If you successfully killed and removed your old lawn, including all the weeds in it, your newly sodded lawn should have relatively few weeds. It is suggested that you hand pick weeds out of your newly sodded lawn for the first season.